No Grand Designs drama for the renovation of Thorphinsty Barn near Cartmel

PUBLISHED: 12:00 08 September 2015

Thorphinsty Barn

Thorphinsty Barn

Not Archant

Grand Designs came calling when a couple set out to save an important Lakeland cruck barn from dereliction

When Grand Designs came knocking on the door of derelict Thorphinsty Barn its owner David Guest politely declined. As he says, the makers of the Channel 4 programme fronted by Kevin McCloud, right, require a cement-mixer full of drama when they film their house building documentaries.

‘They really want disasters and this wasn’t going to be a disaster,’ he laughs. ‘It came within ten per cent of budget – it would have made terrible TV.’

It’s actually an exaggeration to say Channel 4 knocked on the door of Thorphinsty Barn. The 16th century Grade II listed Lakeland cruck barn didn’t really have a door and what was left of the roof was shrouded by a tarpaulin.

The barn is on a bank above David’s former property, a Victorian barn conversion, deep in the Winster Valley near Cartmel Fell. It had been on Holker Estate land and, in recent years, the tenant had used it as a repository for broken farm machinery.

Thorphinsty BarnThorphinsty Barn

‘From our property we watched it slowly falling to pieces,’ he says. ‘Because it was a listed building its condition meant everyone was quite agitated about it. When the farmer passed away the estate decided to sell it and we fancied giving it a go.’

After sorting out rights of way, David financed the project by selling his Victorian barn, which he’d used as a holiday home for his family. With local builders, Duckett’s, and Kendal architect Ted Fletcher, he and wife Sonia set about saving the structure.

‘I’ve always liked a project,’ said David, a businessman from Warwick. ‘But we still can’t quite believe how well it went.’ So well, it was shortlisted for a Civic Trust Award.

The restoration, including navigating the complexities of planning consent, took around a year and the result is a luxurious four bedroom property with the rafters of the cruck barn displayed in all their glory.

Thorphinsty BarnThorphinsty Barn

It is thought to be the only cruck barn in the Lakes that has been converted for residential use and this year the Guests have decided to let it to holidaymakers. ‘We tend to only go to the Lakes in the autumn so it seemed a terrible waste after all the work that’s gone into it. We want people to appreciate it.’

As well as a stunning place to stay, Thorphinsty Barn also has nine acres of grounds and the Guests have created some beautiful areas with wildlife ponds and a shepherd’s cabin. ‘We love to sit in the cabin with a blanket and light the stove,’ says David.

‘Thorphinsty Barn is all about peace, calm and enjoying this extraordinary environment and that’s exactly what our guests are looking for. We offer wi-fi but I suspect, once here , our visitors will want to switch their phones off.’

They certainly won’t have the same misgivings as David’s granddaughter. ‘When we first bought it the place was more or less derelict. She looked through the door and said: “I don’t want to sleep in there, Grandpa!”’ w

To find out more about Thorphinsty Barn visit or call 015394 32321.

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